Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Octavia Spencer’s comic gifts should not be hidden, figures Saturday Night Live

Octavia Spencer (Photo: NBC)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4. All times are Eastern.

Top picks

Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m., Saturday): SNL returns from a week off, leaving the writers with a double-helping of Donald Trump’s bullshit to craft into stink bombs for their number one not-fan to sputter about in his signature late night, potty-perched Twitter tirade. The show welcomes the glory that is Oscar-winner, Hidden Figures co-star, and self-proclaimed Jedi Octavia Spencer as host, alongside musical guest Father John Misty. It is unknown at press time if Spencer will play Harriet Tubman (or Tub-girl) as she has on two other very funny shows, or if SNL and 30 Rock alum Tracy Morgan will return to attempt to direct her once again. Reviewer Dennis Perkins knows that that sounds like a Tracy problem, Tracy.

Tanked (Animal Planet, 10 p.m., Friday): This episode is titled “My Tank From Hell—Nightmare Tanks.” Man! That is one terrifying tank! Wait, they just make fishtanks on this show. What the hell is in this tank?

Vice (HBO, 11 p.m., Friday): A week after the Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department wouldn’t so much give a shit about the rights of transgender students, Vice devotes an episode of this newsmagazine show to the rights and struggles of transgender students.


Custody (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): Sure, sure, it’s a Lifetime movie about a mother who just wants her kids back! But this one is executive produced by Oscar winner Viola Davis, who also stars as the hard-nosed but (one guesses) understanding family court judge alongside the overqualified-for-this-sort-of-thing likes of Tony Shalhoub, Hayden Panettiere, Oscar nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno, and screen legend Ellen Burstyn. So show some respect, you.

Planet Earth II (BBC America, 9 p.m., Saturday): Sure, it’s got sobering footage of man-made environmental carnage and some harrowing snake vs. iguana battles, but there’s still something so restorative about this exquisitely shot nature miniseries sequel. This week: Jungles! That means monkeys! You love those!


Premieres and finales

The Powerpuff Girls (Cartoon Network, 6:30 p.m., Friday): The second season premiere of this revived superhero series sees impossibly adorable ass-kickers Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup keep the world safe from evil monkeys, and supervillains, and whatnot.


Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation (Nat Geo Wild, 9 p.m., Friday): The series premiere of this new canine-training show from the self-proclaimed Dog Whisperer has a title that suggests he and those dogs are up to something. Seriously, he’s whispering some subversive stuff to those dogs. Watch yourself.

Emerald City (NBC, 9 p.m., Friday): In the first season finale of Tarsem Singh’s gritty, visually sumptuous retelling of The Wizard Of Oz, Dorothy may pull up to the E.C. gates in a bitchin’ hovercraft while her jetpack-sporting werewolf Toto kung-fu fights giant winged gorillas. Look, there’s a lot of TV out there, and some of us haven’t been keeping up. Still—it’s gonna be gritty, don’t you worry about that.


When We Rise (ABC, 9 p.m., Friday): After its first installment was preempted by Donald Trump’s State Of The Union speech—because of course it was—this sweeping, star-packed miniseries from writer and creator Dustin Lance Black about the history of the LGBTQ movement in America concludes tonight. Our own Danette Chavez says the enterprise might sometimes sag under the weight of its good intentions, but that it finds the emotional core of its still desperately needed history lesson.

Regular coverage

Steven Universe (Cartoon Network, 7 p.m., Friday)

The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8 p.m., Friday)

Grimm (NBC, 8 p.m., Friday)

Reign (CW, 9 p.m., Friday)

Star Wars Rebels (Disney XD, 8:30 p.m., Saturday)

Streaming picks (What’s On Tonight-ers edition)

WWE SmackDown (Hulu): LaToya Ferguson (alongside fellow ’rassling aficionados Kyle Fowle and Alasdair Wilkins) is one of the finest wrestling writers anywhere, able to find the funny, the drama, and, yes, the poetry in her SmackDown rundowns. Which are well worth a read even if you’re not into all the tights and grunting yourself.


BoJack Horseman (Netflix): Les Chappell’s coverage of this devastatingly funny animated series is like a master class in interpreting the true beauty of a cartoon about a depressed, alcoholic, washed-up horse actor. Reading his reviews after watching each episode just prolongs and enriches your enjoyment. (And, if you haven’t watched BoJack Horseman yet, that should be good enough of a reason.)

Supergirl (Netflix): We know better than to call Caroline Siede a “super girl,” as she’s a super-woman, and super-reviewer. But her ongoing takes on the Girl Of Steel (who has addressed that whole “girl” thing) delve deep into comics lore, feminism, serialized superhero drama, and the weekly delight that is Melissa Benoist with grace and super turns of phrase.


The Exorcist (Hulu): Dan Caffrey’s a critic, podcaster, playwright, all-around bon vivant, and the guy who, weekly, convinced us that this show—which seemed like a dumb idea—was actually pretty good indeed.

The Good Place (Hulu): According to Dennis Perkins, and other, smarter people, The Good Place was one of the most delightful and consistently surprising shows to hit network TV in years. According to Perkins, the What’s On Tonight beat has been a damned good place, too, and he thinks the world of his WOT comrades-in-TV-based puns.

One last toast to the What’s On Tonight team (Photo: Justin Lubin/NBC)

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